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Arizona women’s basketball advance to the third round of WNIT, defeat Pacific

Photo by Ryan Kelapire

In 1998, Arizona women’s basketball went to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats haven’t won more than one postseason game in a season since. On Sunday afternoon, they used superior depth and size to put an end to that streak, defeating the Pacific Tigers by a score of 64-48.

“It feels amazing,” Dominique McBryde said. “This is what we’ve been working towards. Being in the postseason, try to change this program around. And we’re not done. We have a lot more basketball to play.”

Aari McDonald led the game in both points and rebounds, putting up 20 points and gathering 12 boards. She was just shy of a triple-double, ending the night with seven assists.

It was another night of milestones for McDonald, who became just the fourth player in Pac-12 history to surpass 800 points in a season. She ended the night with a total of 809 points.

Cate Reese scored 16 for the game. Twelve of those came in the third and fourth quarters, when Arizona was finally able to pull away.

McBryde returned to action after being out with an illness on Thursday. She scored 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field. She also added four rebounds, two assists and three steals to her stat line.

The Wildcats started the game strong, building a 13-point lead in the first quarter. McDonald and Reese were responsible for 14 of Arizona’s 25 points as the Wildcats scored one bucket after another in the paint.

The Tigers got their feet under them in the second quarter and were able to outscore the home team by seven. When the teams went to the locker room, Pacific trailed by just six points.

Arizona pushed the lead back to eight early in the third quarter, but Pacific wouldn’t go away. They pushed back, cutting the Wildcats’ advantage to three.

“It wasn’t beautiful,” said Arizona coach Adia Barnes. “I thought we played probably like 28 minutes of really good basketball. We just go through these ups and downs. We let them get within three, we don’t play defense, and we miss a lot of quick shots. And they score on the other end. So, those are things we have to correct.”

With 5:10 left to go in the third, the Wildcats got serious.

“We knew they were tired,” McDonald said. “My teammates did a great job defensively. Credit to Dominique, she came out and got some key rebounds and a key steal.”

From 5:10 in the third until 5:10 in the fourth quarter, Arizona went on a 19-2 run to take a 60-40 lead.

“I think because we knew we were a lot better than this team, and we weren’t necessarily playing like it in the first half, we knew we had to dig deep and then come out and play the way we’re capable of playing,” McBryde said. “No matter if shots weren’t falling or not. Just play defense the way we can play, and just go from there.”

The game was essentially over with five minutes to go. The Tigers’ jump shots were short. Their passes sailed out of bounds. They looked to have spent all they had, both physically and mentally.

After putting the final touches on the win, McDonald and Reese both addressed the crowd of 3,534 fans.

“I thought it was good for me to tell the fans how much I appreciate them,” McDonald said. “Just thanks for coming.”

The Wildcats will host the third round against Idaho on Thursday, Mar. 28 at 6:30 p.m. MST.

Postgame interviews

Adia Barnes

Here’s Adia Barnes after Arizona’s WNIT win over Pacific

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, March 24, 2019

Aari McDonald and Dominique McBryde

Here’s Aari McDonald and Dominique McBryde after Arizona’s win vs. Pacific

Posted by AZ Desert Swarm on Sunday, March 24, 2019